(Trends Wide) — A jury in Marion County, Tennessee, ordered the Cracker Barrel restaurant chain to pay a man $9.4 million after claiming the company was responsible for serving him a glass filled with a chemical instead of water.
The award amount may be capped due to a Tennessee civil damages law.
“The jury returned a compensatory damages verdict of $4.3 million in just 30 minutes – one of the fastest verdicts we have ever seen – and awarded punitive damages of $5 million after only 10 minutes of additional deliberation. Thomas Greer, attorney for plaintiff William Cronnon, said in an interview with Trends Wide.
“The speed of the verdict, combined with an amount greater than what we asked for, speaks to how dangerous Cracker Barrel’s policy was,” Greer said.
Cracker Barrel said it was “disappointed” with the decision.
“While we have great respect for the legal process, we are obviously disappointed and strongly disagree with the jury’s verdict in this case, which involved an unfortunate and isolated incident that occurred in one of our stores eight years ago,” the division said. Cracker Barrel Media Relations in a statement emailed to Trends Wide.
“While we are considering our options regarding this verdict, we are pleased that this matter is behind us so that we can better focus on caring for our guests and employees across the country,” the statement added.
This was the incident at Cracker Barrel
Cronnon was having lunch at a Cracker Barrel restaurant in Marion County in April 2014 when he took a sip of what he thought was water, “only to immediately realize it wasn’t ice water but some chemical that was causing him a burning sensation in his mouth and esophagus,” according to court documents obtained by Trends Wide.
Cronnon was later found to have been served the Eco-San chemical, which was used as a cleaner in the kitchen area, according to court documents.
Eco-San, described as a corrosive chemical in the lawsuit, caused Cronnon serious and permanent internal physical injuries, according to the complaint.
Cronnon is still suffering from symptoms, including injuries to his mouth and esophagus, Greer said, for which he has and will continue to incur medical bills.
“Cracker Barrel’s negligence not only caused physical harm to the customer, it took away part of his identity,” he said.
Cronnon declined to comment, Greer said.